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Contracting For Government Services: Theory And Evidence From U.S. Cities

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  • JONATHAN LEVIN
  • STEVEN TADELIS

Abstract

Local governments can provide services with their own employees or by contracting with private or public sector providers. We develop a model of this ‘make‐or‐buy’ choice that highlights the trade‐off between productive efficiency and the costs of contract administration. We construct a dataset of service provision choices by U.S. cities and identify a range of service and city characteristics as significant determinants of contracting decisions. Our analysis suggests an important role for economic efficiency concerns, as well as politics, in contracting for government services.

Suggested Citation

  • Jonathan Levin & Steven Tadelis, 2010. "Contracting For Government Services: Theory And Evidence From U.S. Cities," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(3), pages 507-541, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jindec:v:58:y:2010:i:3:p:507-541
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-6451.2010.00430.x
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    File URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6451.2010.00430.x
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert Vishny, 1997. "Privatization in the United States," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 28(3), pages 447-471, Autumn.
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    5. Oliver Hart & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1997. "The Proper Scope of Government: Theory and an Application to Prisons," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1127-1161.
    6. Trevor L. Brown & Matthew Potoski, 2003. "Managing contract performance: A transaction costs approach," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(2), pages 275-297.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • D73 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Bureaucracy; Administrative Processes in Public Organizations; Corruption
    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • L33 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Comparison of Public and Private Enterprise and Nonprofit Institutions; Privatization; Contracting Out

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